Gary Carter, the Hall of Famer and key member of the 1986 world champion New York Mets, was, to use a Yiddish expression, a mensch in every sense of the word. Unlike many top athletes and sports public relations honchos who try to create a caste system among the media, Gary found time to talk to you no matter how big or small your outlet was. He truly enjoyed meeting fans and not because he considered it part of his job.
The last time I spoke with Carter was at the Baseball Assistance Team Dinner just over a year ago. He regretted that he never got to manage in the majors and was still hurt over how the media pilloried him in 2007 for campaigning for the Mets’ managerial post while Willie Randolph was still on the job. Gary claimed he had just said yes to a reporter’s question about whether he’d be interested.
He admitted that he made a mistake by turning down the Mets’ offer to manage their Binghamton AA team after he had won the Florida State League championship managing the Port St. Lucie Mets. At the time he felt that accomplishment, combined with his stellar playing career, should have been enough to promote him to a coaching spot in Flushing.
The St. John’s University men’s basketball team showed resiliency after their St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, when Seton Hall beat them by 30 points, by knocking off UCLA at Madison Square Garden last Saturday.
This has not been an easy year for the Red Storm. Their head coach, Steve Lavin, has been off the sidelines as he recovers from cancer. Junior point guard Malik Stith surprisingly left the team two weeks ago for reasons that have not been made public. And a number of nagging injuries have hit key players.
Veteran NBA forward Lamar Odom, who grew up in South Jamaica and played at Christ the King HS, was in town last Sunday as his team, the Dallas Mavericks, visited to take on the Knicks. Odom is married to reality TV star Khloe Kardashian (yes, sister of Kim) and is well-known to viewers of cable’s E! Network.
“My wife was surprised about how great Queens is,” Lamar said with pride. “Khloe did not know that New York City was more than just Manhattan. She was surprised to discover all of the different ethnic neighborhoods here. She also likes the small shops on Jamaica Avenue.” Queens Borough President Helen Marshall couldn’t ask for a better ambassador.
You have to feel for veteran Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Julie Henderson, who has now appeared in SI’s biggest-selling issue for the sixth straight year but has yet to grace its cover. Henderson showed a nice sense of humor about herself when she concurred with my assessment that she is modeling’s answer to actress Parker Posey — always in a supporting role but never the lead. She indicated this may be her last SI go-round, saying, “I would like to follow Kathy Ireland’s example and start my own fashion and cosmetics brand.” Ireland was profiled last month in Forbes for her multimillion dollar business empire.